Four months before the anticipated onset of the rains; the Government has started distributing agriculture inputs under the Presidential Well-wishers Scheme.
It had probably never happened since the launch of the support scheme a few years ago that farmers, mainly the resource-poor ones in communal areas, take delivery of inputs they desperately need so early. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has since it assumed office in November last year, shown that it is all about action on the ground, not the lip service we had become accustomed to. It is a Government that has the interests of the masses at heart, listens to their challenges and aspirations and acts upon them.
Addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at a rally at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province on Saturday, President Mnangagwa attributed the early distribution of inputs to hard work by the Government.
“We have already started distributing inputs under the Presidential Input Scheme. What kind of Government can you yearn for? We are in July and you usually received inputs between October and November. Early distribution of Presidential inputs is due to hard work from my team. If you do not perform, then we can never work together,” he said.
“There is also Command Agriculture; the inputs will also be coming soon. There are those who supervise that area. . . . We have our Command Agriculture, the first model was for maize and it was a resounding success and because of that model Zimbabwe will never again suffer from food deficiency. There might be some regions which may receive below normal rainfall, but we make sure that we have produced enough grain throughout every season.”
We remember seeing in the past few years inputs under the Presidential Well-wishers Scheme being distributed at the end of Zanu-PF conferences or congresses which are always staged in December by which time the effective rains would have fallen in many parts of the country. At that time most farmers would have long started planting. By and large, agriculture inputs that are distributed so late in the season serve no purpose.
But times have changed. We laud the Government for thinking and acting so far ahead of time. A farmer who mobilises his or her inputs in time is able to plan effectively for the season. They would just be waiting for the rains to fall for them to spring into action. A farmer who acquires inputs in time is better able to plan and has higher chances of success than one who secures inputs late thus does not have enough time to plan and do their plantings. Therefore, we are hopeful that our farmers would be successful this season; better than a difficult 2017/18 one.
Now that farmers are receiving the much needed inputs so early, there can be a risk that some of them might be tempted to sell the inputs, telling themselves that they would be able to raise money and buy them themselves as the rains approach. We have heard about this very unfortunate practice before. We strongly urge our farmers to desist from such behaviour.
Doing so is dishonest and is a betrayal of the Government and the President himself. The farmers must use the inputs for the purpose they received them — that is to plant them on their farms.
As the President assured at the Chipadze Stadium rally, inputs for the Command Agriculture Scheme will soon be distributed to farmers across the country. The scheme has been expanded, with more crops and farm activities being added on after it started off as a maize-focused initiative. Now that the scope has been expanded, it is likely to be more challenging executing it. This is why it is very critical, as the President said at the rally, that mechanisms for the early distribution of the inputs are put in place on time. We look forward to the allocations under this scheme starting soon after the elections at the end of this month.
Such timing will help command farmers avoid the challenges they faced last year when some elements in the previous regime allegedly sabotaged the initiative, resulting in late allocations or none at all. Also, at the time when the inputs were supposed to be procured and allocated, the Government was changing, with former president, Mr Robert Mugabe making way for President Mnangagwa in mid November. This was bound to have some impact on the smooth flow of progress. However, this time the Command Agriculture Scheme is expected to be implemented fully and timeously upon the conclusion of elections that President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF are favoured to win resoundingly.
We pray for favourable rains so that programmes like the foregoing two can yield the desired fruits. If rains don’t fall effectively, both could come to naught. That is why it is important for the agriculture industry, with the obvious support of the Government, to promote investment to boost the national irrigation capacity.